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Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns


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Strike[s] at the heart of [the] assumption that a monopoly on violence is the hallmark of the state, ... [Thomson] is correct when she advises us that 'state' and 'sovereignty' are more mutable concepts than we might acknowledge or even admit. [A] major contribution to our understanding of international affairs and to the history of state-building. -- Francis X. Hartigan, "Terrorism and Political Violence"

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsList of TablesIntroduction3Ch. 1The State, Violence, and Sovereignty7The State and Violence in Theory7The State and Violence in History10Sovereignty in Theory11The Institution of Sovereignty14The Argument18Ch. 2Nonstate Violence Unleashed21Privateering22Mercenaries26Mercantile Companies32Ch. 3Unintended Consequences43The Mediterranean Corsairs44Organized Piracy45Problems with Mercenarism54Problems with Mercantile Companies59Ch. 4Delegitimating State-Authorized Nonstate Violence69The Abolition of Privateering69The Delegitimation of Mercenarism77The Demise of the Mercantile Companies97Ch. 5Suppressing Unauthorized Nonstate Violence107Piracy107The Rise and Decline of Filibustering118Ch. 6Conclusion143Explaining the Transition146The State, Sovereignty, and World Politics149The Future152Notes155Bibliography201Index215

About the Author

Janice E. Thomson is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington.


"All may ... welcome [Thomson] as a fellow-grappler with that protean problem that confronts historians and ... social scientists alike: the shortcomings of international society [today], and the degree to which those shortcomings are attributable to the idea that 'sovereign states' have of themselves, and the self-interested ways they tend to behave within it."--Geoffrey Best, Times Literary Supplement "Thomson's book is well worth reading. It is historically rich and theoretically erudite."--Michael C. Desch, Mershon International Studies Review "Janice E. Thomson's title may mislead. She is a political scientist, [but] ... there is much in Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns for historians too; for the many with an interest in state-formation and the not-so-many interested in the development of the interstate-system or, as some of us prefer to call it, international society. The common factor in the discussion of the two processes is the question of the legitimate uses of armed force."--Times Literary Supplement

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